Folate fortification and supplementation--are we there yet?

Reprod Toxicol. 2008 Aug;25(4):408-12. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2008.04.010. Epub 2008 May 3.


Background: Folic acid fortification of flour has significantly decreased the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs). We aimed at examining whether Ontario women of child-bearing age exhibit protective levels of RBC folate.

Methods: We reviewed laboratory databases on RBC folic acid from pre and post fortification years. The data included age, gender, RBC folate, hemoglobin, mean cell volume and pregnancy test. We examined a sub-set of females at ages 14-45 years who were non-anemic and normocytic. Complete protection against NTD was defined as RBC folate concentration above 900 nmol/L.

Results: In 2006, 40% of the women of child-bearing age and 36% of pregnant women, exhibited RBC folate levels below 900 nmol/L, rendering them sub-optimally protected against NTD.

Conclusion: A considerable proportion of pregnant women is still at risk of having a baby with NTD. This should be remedied by increasing the mandatory concentrations of folic acid required in flour, complemented by public education and increasing the folic acid in prenatal supplements.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood*
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Tube Defects / prevention & control
  • Ontario
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin B Complex / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Folic Acid